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New site shows which California elected officials ask special interests to donate to their favored charities

Gov. Jerry Brown is the elected state official who asks special interests to donate the most to his favored charities. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Gov. Jerry Brown is the elected state official who asks special interests to donate the most to his favored charities. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Elected state officials in California ask special interests to donate millions of dollars annually to their favorite charities. Now residents can get a clearer picture of who is asking, who is giving and who is getting the money.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission launched a new database search site on its website Thursday that makes it easier to see who the players are and compare them to determine who is raising the most money.

“This is yet another tool to provide the public information about their elected officials," Commission Chairwoman Jodi Remke said. "It shows who is asking for money and from whom, how much, and where it’s going. An informed public is vital to maintain government accountability.”

The database shows that state elected officials asked businesses, unions and other special interests to donate more than $5 million last year to dozens of their favored charities.

Gov. Jerry Brown raised the most — $2.8 million — with money going to the Oakland Military Institute charter school, the Oakland School for the Arts and the State Protocol Foundation, which pays for some of his travel and events.

Contributors to the charities selected by Brown include United Airlines, the Bicycle Hotel Casino, the Gardena Casino, Walmart and Comcast.

For legislators, charities that received much of the contributions include those formed by caucuses for Latino, African American and female lawmakers.

“It’s very user-friendly,” Commissioner Eric Casher said of the database, adding it provides “lots of useful information.”

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